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Ultrasound Used To Breach Blood-Brain Barrier In Path Breaking Study

Update Date: Nov 10, 2015 04:48 PM EST

Researchers in Canada have shown for the first time that it is possible to non-invasively cross the blood-brain barrier and deliver drugs.

According to BBC, gas-filled bubbles guided by ultrasound were used to punch holes in the barrier and deliver chemotherapy drugs without damaging the barrier or the brain. The technique has been successfully tried on a 56-year-old woman suffering from brain cancer.

The blood-brain barrier separates the brain's blood supply from the rest of it, protecting the organ from pathogens. However, this makes it difficult to provide targeted treatment to the brain, required to treat conditions like cancer, Alzheimer's and other disorders. By using a non-invasive technique like ultrasound, researchers showed that the barrier can be breached in a reversible manner.

"The blood-brain barrier (BBB) has been a persistent obstacle to delivering valuable therapies to treat disease such as tumours. We are encouraged that we were able to temporarily open this barrier in a patient to deliver chemotherapy directly to the brain tumour," said Dr. Todd Mainprize, the study's principal investigator and neurosurgeon at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.

The study's success could have major implications for treating brain disorders. For now however, researchers are testing the safety and efficacy of the technique. Nine more people are said to undergo the trial as part of first phase clinical trials.

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